Saturday, November 8, 2008

Sloe, Apple and Rose Syllabub



This post is a little late, I'm afraid I have been rather busy this month and found that the days slipped into weeks and then, well you know the rest. It is my contribution to 'Go Ahead Honey it's Gluten Free', the gluten free food event started by yours truly, and carried aloft by the great and good of the gluten free blogging world. Every month we are all delighted and amazed by the gorgeous dishes that flow in.



Vittoria of Deliciously Gluten Free was our gracious host this month. The theme she chose was indigenous food, something that had me scratching my head and wondering what to do with a gastronomic heritage that includes such illustrious dishes as; spotted dick, toad in the hole and sago pudding. But I must have had my thinking cap on slightly askew, because when I adjusted the jaunty angle during my ruminations, I remembered that old fashioned dessert, syllabub. Syllabub has been testing the cream beating arm of many a cook since the middle ages, when milk maids are rumoured to have milked their cow directly into a glass of sweet wine, creating a creamy, alcoholic frothy delight with each squeeze. Soon enough cooks were using all sorts of alcohol and opting for cream, that would sit in a frothy crown atop the sweetened alcohol below. Modern syllabubs tend to have more of the fool about them as we have lost our taste for cream floating on wine. A syllabub is generally light, airy and spiked with a healthy back note of alcohol.

Yes, I knew just what to do and how to showcase the flavours of autumn in a light and airy posset, that fulfilled all briefs, gluten free, SCD, low salicylate, local and seasonal - oh my!

As I follow SCD, I need to ferment any dairy for 24 hours to eliminate the lactose. So I made this syllabub with 24 hour creme fraiche. I used goats cream, which is why the syllabub does not billow airily out of the glasses - goats cream holds less air than cows cream due to its structure. If you also follow SCD, first make your creme fraiche - if not, just buy some full fat creme fraiche, or make this with double cream.

Because Finley needs a low salicyllate diet, I chose golden delicious apples for the juice, which I juiced myself - use any pressed English apple juice if you are not similarly constrained.

I just happened to have some SCD sloe gin (sweetened with honey) whiling away the months until Christmas, in a kitchen cupboard - if you have some too then use that. Otherwise, brandy, sherry or rose schnapps would be delicious too. Anyone following SCD can use dry white wine with a little extra honey, plain vodka or gin for the alcohol part, but not brandy, sherry or traditional sloe gin.

The rest is simple, just beat until your arm feels ready to fall off - or use an electric whisk and save your arm for spooning. Serve sprinkled with rose petals or toasted hazelnuts and maybe some little hazel butter cookies on the side.


Sloe, Apple and Rose Syllabub makes 6 glasses

While rosewater may seem to be a very middle eastern thing, it was in common use in England right up until the Victorian era. Maybe those stiff lipped Victorians heard that it soothes the heart, or makes the taster remember an evening spent in a rose garden, or a flower pressed to the nose of a flushed cheeked girl? Roses are completely indigenous to England and rose water is made here as well as in the far east, distilled from deeply scented roses that catch the dew and tea roses that joyfully give up their scent to the mild English summer in a most un-Victorian way.

50ml sloe gin, sweet wine, dry white wine (sweetened with honey), sherry or brandy
4 tsp rosewater
4 heaped tsp English set honey, or 6 tsp English runny honey
200ml pressed apple or pear juice
400ml full fat creme fraiche, or double cream (add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice to apple mixture)

If you use set honey then melt it very gently until liquid, leave to cool for a few minutes and then mix everything else except cream/creme fraiche into the honey. For runny honey, do the same, just don't melt it first.

Pour or spoon the cream/creme fraiche into a large bowl with steep sides (or you will be covered with tiny cream polka dots like I was). Beat with an electric whisk until it starts to become a little thicker and frothy. Add 1/4 of the juice/rose mixture and beat until it is absorbed, then add another quarter and so on, beating between each addition. 

Continue beating until the mixture is billowy and light, but don't let it go too far into stiff whipped cream. If you use goats cream then you may have to be content with slightly runny and light. Don't let the cream start to separate. If it starts to look at all grainy, stop straight away or you will have some very interesting butter on your hands.

When it's just right, spoon into pretty glasses and sprinkle rose petals or chopped hazels on top. Bring to the table whilst marvelling that something so reminiscent of summer can be conjured in moments from the fruits of Autumn.

Vittoria will be posting the round up any day now here, you can also check out who will be our host for November/December, should you be inspired to participate.